Meet the Mammoth Safaris team
Collectively, the Mammoth Safaris team has lived and experienced all the corners of the African continent and surrounding islands. As professional guides, lodge managers, independent travelers, professional guide trainers, and even wine makers, there is a great feel for what makes a safari work.
African Travel Expert
I have been out in the nature since I was born. It started with an encounter with a Puff Adder when I was still in my cot and has not slowed since. My early days were spent in the mountains and rivers of the Cape. I was blessed to grow up on a farm and explore most of South Africa before I started guiding at the incomparable Phinda Game Reserve in 1998. It is one of the most superb reserves to be found anywhere and here I honed my skills in tracking big game, birding, botanizing, photography and and a range of other life forms…including people!
Some of my most exciting encounters have been whilst out training guides in South & East Africa. My wife and I started a family in the Serengeti whilst managing the Kleins community concession in Tanzania. In between I have been privileged to explore Costa Rica, Peru, Brazil, India, parts of North America and Europe. I am now based back in my home Elgin Valley, managing Mammoth Safaris and guiding short trips in the spectacular Cape mountains in and around Cape Town. As a professional guide I am also still leading longer trips further afield in Africa and Madagascar as well as assisting other guides to develop with passion through our Essential Guiding courses.
With my binoculars and camera at hand in my office and my children who drag in all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures (dead or alive!) for me to comment on, life is always interesting at the southern tip of Africa!
African Travel Expert
Husband to Katlyn
I started working in the bush in 1997 after travelling through Europe and the United States. Guiding was my only calling and I reveled in the space and freedom of sharing the wild with my guests. I started in the lowveld around the Kruger National Park before moving to the world-famous Phinda Private Game Reserve where I had a particularly amazing time getting to know and understand the cheetah and other big cats. I followed this passion through with some amazing years in the Sabi Sand getting acquainted with the leopards at Londolozi.
After spending time living in Mexico and travelling, I returned to Africa and branched out into professional wildlife and bird guiding across the African continent. Africa is my passion and I love sharing it with people, whether it’s a birding tour in Ethiopia, tracking gorillas in the Congo or a photographic workshop in Botswana. I have also led numerous trips to the exciting destination of Borneo to strengthen my understanding and passion for forests and their incredible diversity. I have also spent time with polar bears in Alaska as I love to keep discovering new places and people!
For a long time I have been involved in training and mentoring other guides, something which I now do through our Essential Guiding courses.
Mother to Zulu
Wife to Gavin
Born and bred in Chicago with a career in fashion as a personal shopper, I never imagined that I would be living a safari lovers dream in South Africa just a few years later. But after my first safari to Tanzania in 2011, I was hooked and by 2013 I had moved to Johannesburg and began to travel the African continent with my now husband Gavin Lautenbach.
Some of my highlights over the past years include trekking Lowland Gorillas through waist-deep water in Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Congo, searching the forests for crazy creatures in Madagascar, and tracking Rhino on foot at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve. Now having travelled throughout most of Southern Africa and beyond, I can offer my knowledge of these magical destinations to those who are first time safari-goers or seasoned travelers.
My favorite part of safari is the feeling you get inside that you are suddenly one with nature and everything else in the world seems to fall away for that time and I think everyone needs to experience this at least once in their life!
“I connect naturally and easily with a wide range of people, both guests and guides! My most valued bonds are those I have shared with a few expert animal trackers, where I have learnt ancient wisdom that has not only informed my own experience, but also the experience and enjoyment of my guests. When guiding guests on an African wildlife experience, there is the textbook information, but then there are the ‘campfire stories’ that connect a person to the essence of Africa, its people, its history and its wildlife. Facilitating that connection has always been my passion.”
Currently, as well as training and guiding special expeditions, Byron manages a conservation academy at a South African NGO. The conservation academy connects rural, underprivileged children to conservation literacy and wildlife experiences. Byron has worked with guiding teams in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Kenya to help them grow as teams and individuals. Byron is a qualified FGASA Level 3 Assessor.
Jacques van Eck
Having a family history of game farming and conservation as part of my DNA, I naturally gravitated towards nature, wildlife and the open spaces, my true north. After graduating with a diploma in Nature conservation, I started to work for the South African National Parks (SANParks) where I was involved in exciting projects such as breeding disease-free buffalo, roan and sable antelope. These projects were established to ensure viable populations for reintroduction into other national parks. While at SANParks, I was also involved with the capture and movement of over 2,000 head of game to the new Mokala National Park from Vaalbos National Park and was the very first SANParks ranger to be stationed at Mokala National Park.
I wanted more, to travel, explore and to learn, so I eventually joined AndBeyond (originally CC Africa) and was stationed at Phinda Game Reserve in Northern Natal in 2008 as a guide after going through their intensive training program. Here is where my eyes lit up with the abundance of wildlife, the ecology and diversity of habitats. I was privileged to be surrounded by colleagues and mentors, who later became lifelong friends, who inspired me and who imparted a wealth of knowledge onto me. I was fortunate to share these moments and my love for the bush, not only at Phinda but at many other AndBeyond lodges, with my guests from South Africa and all over the world.
Having developed a deep appreciation for the role that great mentors played in both my professional and personal development, I too became passionate to share their advice and skills and soon found myself doing the same for younger and/or less experienced guides, naturally gravitating into a mentoring and training role. As a trainer I had the benefit of travelling the broader African continent with the responsibility of training various teams, including South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia and Angola.
Zulu is a golden retriever growing up street wise and sassy in the leafy suburbs of Johannesburg. Whilst much of his day is spent chewing on various items of clothing and furniture, Zulu likes nothing more than a good socialization session down at the local park. Despite his name conjuring up images of a brave warrior, Zulu is a bit of a softy and enjoys a decent tummy tickle and likes to sleep on Gavin’s head. He is also head of Mammoth Security and has sent many a squirrel - tail between legs - rushing away from HQ.